Ludlow Makes 127 M.p.h. With Stock Type Henderson In So. Calif.

From the October 1924 issue of Motorcyclist magazine

San Bernardino, Cal., Oct. 20. -Riding a 1924 Henderson DeLuxe of stock design and especially tuned up for speed, Fred W. Ludlow, former motorcycle racing star and now a traffic officer at Venice, this morning set a new quarter-mile straightaway record here on the Cajon Pass highway, of 127.1 miles per hour.

Four trials were made and on each dash the speed increased until it reached the maximum recorded. It was decided to abandon further attempts for the day owing to the steadily rising temperature.

The official watches were held by H.F. Weller, Southern California representative of the A.A.A., E.M. Fisk, vice-president of the Aero Club of Southern California, J.J. O’Connor, of the A.M.A., E.A. Trabant of the Valvoline Oil Co., and several traffic officers.

The novel streamlining of the machine with airplane construction added materially to the speed and this formation was used for the first time in motorcycle record trials.

At 6 a.m. this morning the time trials party began to assemble at a crossroads oil station four miles from this city and in half an hour, the assembly was complete and the party adjourned down the road to lay out the course.

After the quarter-mile stretch had been selected, measured and verified, several officers stood guard at either end of a long section beyond the actual course to control traffic while Ludlow was in motion.

On the fourth trial, the four watches showed time as follows: 7.1, 7.0, 7.1, and 7.1, or 28.3 for the mile, which averages 127.1.

The machine is a standard Henderson and the property of Allan B. Monks of the local Henderson agency. It is a regular factory production and was built up from stock parts. It has been used as a solo and as a sidecar job, and competed with in hillclimbs and endurance runs, indicating that it is not a petted speed job.

Pistons are the M. & L. alloy type and the valves are Thompson silchrome. The cylinders however are stock and the displacement is standard, 79.4 cubic inches. All motor work has been done at the local agency and all testing by Ludlow and Bayless.

Experiment on airplane streamlining came through the suggestion of E.M. Fisk of Catron & Fisk Airplane & Engine Co., of Venice. Fisk designed and built the front shields, motor bonnet and tailpiece and Bayless installed them.

Ludlow’s racing experience came in handy on carburetion and after much experimenting, a super-charger effect was accomplished by changes in the construction of the Zenith carburetor.

Scores of ideas were tried, some discarded and others developed. All this necessitated many tests, the burden of which fell on Ludlow. The problems of gear ratio, spark lead, carburetion, compression, fuel, valve timing, piston clearance, all were worked out by tests and analysis of results. Progress was slow at times but it was steady and when a short sprint near the Palisades showed 123 miles an hour, it was decided to seek a long course and make another official trial. Today’s record is the result.

Much was learned today which will be applied to further development and in the opinion of speed authorities not connected with the motorcycle trade, certain things can be done and tests made over a certain course which will permit a speed of better than 135 miles an hour.

Ludlow’s riding today was pronounced absolutely perfect and he fitted into the machine so compactly that his body set up practically no wind resistance. The trials today were held at an altitude of 1200 feet above sea level and in a constantly rising temperature, but the motor gave no sign of heat and did not slough while under the watches.

While the speed attained, in itself was great cause for gratification and enthusiasm among those directly connected with the Henderson and the trial, and was a tremendous tribute to the ingenuity of Bayless and Ludlow, an even greater degree of happiness was manifested by Tennant Lee and Allan Monks over the fact that it was possible to tune up a stock Henderson to deliver such speed without altering the standard design or using special parts. The construction was standard throughout as regards dimensions of all motor units, and the drive was through the standard Henderson transmission gears.

Equipment used was as follows: Firestone 2” tires with 100 lbs. pressure; Simms magneto; Zenith carburetor; A.C. Plugs; Duckworth chain, Richfield gasoline; Valvoline oil; Thompson silchrome valves; M. & L. alloy pistons; Timken bearings.

Head-on view of the Ludlow Henderson showing front wind deflector. It will be noticed that the bulky looking tail cannot be seen from the front
From the rear the tail looks like a monster fender. It may appear heavy but it only weighs 7 pounds. Note the cutaway footboards